2020 has been a year for the books, in more ways than one. Being able to read more than usual due to the lockdown through the middle of this year, I’ve decided to expand my usual Top 10 Books post into two lists: Top 10 Non-Fiction and Top 10 Novels.
TOP 10 NON-FICTION BOOKS
- Gentle and Lowly (Dane Ortlund). This book is special; in my opinion, it’s the best thing that has been written in the 21st century. Whether you are a Christian or not, Dane has produced some of the most beautiful writing yet about the heart of Christ toward sinners and sufferers.
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (John Mark Comer). I read this book right before Covid-19 hit, so the timing could not have been more perfect. Brilliantly written thoughts on spiritual rhythms, patience, and walking at the Spirit’s pace.
- Frederick Douglass (David W. Blight). An outstanding biography on Frederick Douglass. I was deeply inspired by the life of this man.
- Understanding Spiritual Gifts (Sam Storms). Storms at his best, presents an accessible, comprehensive case for the continuation of spiritual gifts.
- England Before and After Wesley (J.W Bready). This book was so hard to find, but had some absolute gems as it explored the social and spiritual conditions in England before and after the first Great Awakening in the mid 18th century.
- The Glass Castle (Jeanette Walls). It’s hard to believe this book doesn’t belong in the “novels” category, but the life story of Jeanette Walls is one of the strangest and most captivating I’ve read. Couldn’t put it down.
- A Gentle Answer (Scott Sauls). There isn’t a book yet that Scott has written that I haven’t been hugely encouraged by, and this one was no exception as he explores the gentleness Jesus has towards us, along with how that gentleness changes us.
- Divided We Fall (David French). Insightful, helpful, honest look into the tensions within the USA right now.
- Bruchko (Bruce Olsen). I’d read this while I was a teenager, but it struck me different the second time around. Very inspired by Olsen’s story, humility, and commitment among the Motilone people in Colombia/Venezuela.
- Delighting in the Trinity (Michael Reeves). The most accessible, enjoyable book on the Trinity I have read to date. Loved this!
TOP 10 NOVELS
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriette Beecher-Stowe). A classic from the American civil war era, though I’d never read it before. Beautiful, persuasive writing – my eyes got teary several times.
- The Nightingale (Kristen Hannah). Gripping WW2 novel, I could not put it down.
- Darkness and Dawn (F.W Farrar). A 19th century historical-fiction about Nero and Christianity in early Rome. Hard to find, but brilliant!
- Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen). Beautiful writing on one of the most famous novels of the past few centuries (that I had also never read!). I loved every moment of it.
- American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins). From the opening lines to the final conclusion, this was probably the most enjoyably-stressful book I read this year. A mother and son escaping the cartel, trying to cross the American border.
- Stalingrad (Vasily Grossman). A Russian-novel, so incredibly lengthy with countless characters to attempt to keep track of…but worth every bit of the effort. Retells the German invasion of the Soviet Union during WW2. Grossman — who has been called the Tolstoy of the 20th century — has this ability to suddenly side-step the story and veer into a powerful, poetic monologue that is genuinely breathtaking.
- East of Eden (John Steinbeck). Also a classic. Steinbeck is a masterful storyteller and paints characters in his stories that you feel you intimately know in real life. Incredible book.
- The Help (Kathryn Stockett). Most have probably seen the inspirational movie, and as usual, the book was 10x better. This was so much fun to read, especially as the author changes her writing style to match the various characters who tell the story.
- The Water Dancer (Ta-Nehisi Coates). Another book I didn’t want to put down about slavery, freedom, and love in 19th century America. Brilliantly written.
- (tied) Dune (Frank Herbert // Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel). A classic sci-fi that did not disappoint and a drama that follows the life of Thomas Cromwell through the reign of the Tudors in 16th century England tied for 10th place. Both of these are the first books within their respective series, that I’m looking forward to following in 2021.
FULL READING LIST
Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)
Echo Island (Jared C. Wilson)
East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
King’s Arrow (Douglas Bond)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Anthony Marra)
Stalingrad (Vasily Grossman)
The Huntress (Kate Quinn)
The Alice Network (Kate Quinn)
The Ragged Edge of Night (Olivia Hawker)
Duncan’s War (Douglas Bond)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
Dune Messiah (Frank Herbert)
The Eagle of the Ninth (Rosemary Sutcliff)
Darkness and Dawn (F.W Farrar)
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
The Water Dancer (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
*The Hobbit (J.R.R Tolkien)
American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins)
A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)
Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
*The Last Battle (C.S Lewis)
Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Mark Sullivan)
The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)
The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)
The Great Gatsby (Scott F. Fitzgerald)
*The Silver Chair (C.S Lewis)
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
The Warden (Anthony Trollope)
*The Horse and His Boy (C.S Lewis)
The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris)
Harry Heathcote of Gangoil (Anthony Trollope)
The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)
*The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C.S Lewis)
*Prince Caspian (C.S Lewis)
*The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S Lewis)
*The Magician’s Nephew (C.S Lewis)
*Hidden Christmas (Timothy Keller)
The Misty Isle of Skye (John MacCulloch)
Angels (Billy Graham)
Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons (R.C Sproul)
How to Talk About Jesus, Without Being That Guy (Sam Chan)
Divided we Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore our Nation (David French)
*Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl (N.D Wilson)
Hoping for Happiness (Barnabas Piper)
Understanding Spiritual Gifts (Sam Storms)
The Kingdom of God (Stephen Um)
A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them (Scott Sauls)
Exalting Jesus in Psalms 101-150 (Tony Merida)
The Message of Ecclesiastes (Derek Kidner)
Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters (Philip Graham Ryken)
Ecclesiastes (Douglas O’Donnell)
Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes (Daniel Akin)
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years Vol 1 (Carl Sandburg)
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years Vol 2 (Carl Sandburg)
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Vol 1 (Carl Sandburg)
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Vol 2 (Carl Sandburg)
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Vol 3 (Carl Sandburg)
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Vol 4 (Carl Sandburg)
Writing and Research (Kevin Gary Smith)
The Fire Next Time (James Baldwin)
On the Road with Saint Augustine (James K.A Smith)
Exalting Jesus in Philippians (Tony Merida)
One Blood: A Parting Word to the Church on Race (John M. Perkins)
The Laws of Revival (James Burns)
The Power of the Powerless (Vaclav Havel)
Ireland: It’s Saints and Scholars (J.M Flood)
Where is God in a Coronavirus World? (John C. Lennox)
England before and and After Wesley (J.W Bready)
How Can I love Church Members with different Politics (Jonathan Leeman)
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (D.A Carson)
Delighting in the Trinity (Michael Reeves)
Are these the Last Days? (R.C Sproul)
A Believer’s Last Day His Best Day (Thomas Brooks)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
Bruchko (Bruce Olson)
Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice (Eric Mason)
*Letter from Birmingham Jail (Martin Luther King Jr)
The Lamb and the Lion: The Gospel in Revelation (Graeme Goldsworthy)
Can I lose my Salvation (R.C Sproul)
Canoeing the Mountains (Tod Bolsinger)
The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities (Patrick Lencioni)
Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power (Andy Crouch)
Gentle and Lowly (Dane Ortlund)
Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (John Bunyan)
*I am not but I know I am (Louie Giglio)
Enjoying God: Finding Hope in the Attributes of God (R.C Sproul)
Of Patience (Tertullian)
*In His Image (Jen Wilkin)
Ten Indictments against the Modern Church (Paul Washer)
MultiChurch: Exploring the Future of Multisite (Brad House)
On the Incarnation (Athanasius)
The Knowledge of the Holy (A.W Tozer)
*None Like Him (Jen Wilkin)
*The Attributes of God (A.W Pink)
The Idea of the Holy (Rudolf Otto)
Saintly Workers (F.W Farrar)
TOSB: Titus & Philemon
1 & 2 Timothy, Titus (Walter Liefeld)
The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus (John Stott)
Titus for You (Tim Chester)
Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (David Platt)
The Decadent Society: How we Became the Victims of our Own Success (Ross Douthat)
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (David W. Blight)
Educated (Tara Westover)
The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls)
J.C Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone (Iain Murray)
*You are what you Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (James K.A Smith)
7 Myths about Singleness (Sam Allberry)
Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God (C.J Mahaney)
*Porn Again Christian (Mark Driscoll)
Loveology (John Mark Comer)
Proverbs: Wisdom that Works (Ray Ortlund)
The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (Douglas Murray)
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (John Mark Comer)
Does God Want us to be Happy?: The Case for Biblical Happiness (Randy Alcorn)
The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (Douglas Murray)
Surprised by the Spirit (Jack Deere)
Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human (John Mark Comer)
*When the Church was Young (Marcellino D’ambrosio)
*Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship (Andrew Wilson)
*Take Heart: Christian Courage in the Age of Unbelief (Matt Chandler)
*Recapturing the Wonder (Mike Cosper)
*The Reckless Love of God (Alex Early)
*The Mingling of Souls (Matt Chandler)
*Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just (Timothy Keller)
*Death by Living (N.D Wilson)
John Knox (Dorothy Martin)
Help, Thanks, Wow (Ann Lamott)
As Kingfishers Catch Fire (Eugene Peterson)
Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Harrison Warren)
Worldly Saints: The Puritans as they Really Were (Leland Ryken)
Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God (Francis Frangipane)
Celtic Light (Esther de Waal)
Jonathan Goforth (Rosalind Goforth)
*Sticky Teams (Larry Osborne)
(* indicates a re-read)